GORD Surgery FAQs
Do all patients with heartburn need surgery (laparoscopic fundoplication)?
Nearly everybody experiences heartburn once in a while. Heartburn which is frequent (once a week or more) or which affects the quality of life should be treated. Medications such as Ranitidine and Omeprazole are quite effective in controlling heartburn.
However, research suggests that surgery is more effective in the long term.
Surgery is indicated in patients who don’t wish to be on medications for long and those in whom medications don’t have any benefit. Surgery should also be considered in patients who have severe heartburn and develop complications such as blockages from scar tissue (strictures).
What are the consequences on a laparoscopic fundoplication?
Nearly all patients experience a small amount of difficulty eating solid food for 6-8 weeks after surgery. As the swelling from the surgery settles, the passage of food through the new valve becomes easier. Most patients will experience a small amount of weight loss after surgery.
It may also be difficult to burp after surgery and patients may experience some bloating.
Are there any dietary restrictions after a fundoplication?
It will be difficult to eat some types of solid foods after surgery. It is best to follow a soft diet (fork mashable food) and avoid food stuffs like red meat, bread and large pieces of potato.
Are there different types of fundoplication?
There are many methods of doing this procedure. Some surgeons perform a 360 degree wrap where the new valve is ‘wrapped’ all around the oesophagus and some perform lesser degrees of wraps (180, 270, 300). There are pros and cons with ‘complete’ and ‘incomplete’ wraps. Patients with a complete wrap experience a slightly higher chance of experiencing problems with swallowing after surgery but a lower chance of the reflux recurring a few years after surgery.
What is the success rate after surgery?
85-90% of patients are extremely pleased with the results of surgery as they can lie down flat for the first time in years and don’t experience any heartburn. Around 10-15% of patients are only partially happy with the surgery either because the difficulty in swallowing persists for longer than 3 months or because the heartburn either does not completely resolve with surgery or resolves for some time and then recurs.
How long will I need off work?
Many people who do desk-based jobs can return to work in 2-3 days if they can travel to work safely using local transportation. Patients should refrain from driving for at least a week after surgery.
When can I start exercising after surgery?
You can resume light exercises such as walking, light running and swimming around a week after surgery. You can start cycling around 2 weeks after surgery. You should refrain from weight training for at least 6 weeks after surgery.